RADCLIFFE, ANN - The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents
Three-volume first edition of the fifth and final novel Radcliffe saw published in her lifetime. The first edition of The Italian does not contain the corrections Radcliffe made for the second edition (published in the same year); thus, this copy represents the earliest and most unadulterated textual version of this essential Gothic novel. Considered by many as having perfected the Gothic literary form in The Italian, Radcliffe influenced the writings of such figures as Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Jane Austen. The popularity of her works made her the highest-paid writer of the 1790s; The Italian brought in a staggering £800 from her publishers (£10 was a commonplace figure for a writer to receive for a manuscript).
Contemporary calf; spine, corners, and hinges rubbed. Gilt spines with black and gilt title and volume labels. Volume labels missing from 1 and 2; half of title label missing on volume 1. Hinges starting to crack but quite sound. Gilt board edges and marbled endpapers. Ownership stamps, catalog labels, and bookplates on FFE of all volumes (including Bedford College for Women Tate Library, the first institute of higher education for women in the UK, and J.S. Harrison, Brandsburton Hall, likely Colonel James Harrison, notorious for visiting the Belgian Congo and returning with a group of pygmies who would live with him in Yorkshire for the next 2.5 years); one stamp on title pages. Scattered modern pencil marks on FFE (“3 vols”) on all three. Slight pencil marks on RFE on vols 1 and 3; interior text pages clear of marks or foxing. Some small tears to page corners and/or side edges in volumes 2 and 3, not affecting text. Good and sound copy.
First Edition. London: Printed for T. Cadell Jun. And W. Davies (successors to Mr. Cadell) in the Strand. 1797.